My fellow citizens:
Today, we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. But first, far more importantly, we must solve the mystery of who is America's team. The Dallas Cowboys say: "We are." The Buffalo Bills say: "We are." The Houston Oilers say, uh, howdy.
And so, I call upon Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States and, like Jimmy Johnson, another of those guys out of Arkansas who can grow hair like a Chia Pet, to address this pressing issue immediately, this instant, right now, today, before he and Hillary go off and start thinking about tomorrow.
There are three questions our President must put to the American people:
"1--Do you think I should stop using words like 'my fellow' when addressing citizens of both sexes?"
"2--Do you think that by calling myself Bill, I am showing favoritism toward Buffalo?"
"3--Do you think Dallas or Buffalo should be America's team?"
Maybe he can get a 900 phone number or go on Larry King.
The great debate over which team is America's got as rowdy as the McLaughlin Group this week when the coach of the Buffalo Bills, Marvelous Marv Levy, no sooner had set foot at the baggage claim of the Long Beach airport when he began planting his America's team flag the way Neil Armstrong claimed the moon. What Levy had to say, more or less, to the Dallas Cowboys was: "Boys, I know America's team personally, and you're no America's team."
His exact words were:
"I'll tell you, America's team sometimes is what somebody names themselves.
"We've had an outpouring of letters from all over the country since the Houston game. People are telling us that we are America's team. 'You're the one we're looking at. You're the underdog. You're the guys who fought their way back. You're the blue-collar guys.'
"I told our players: 'You know who's going to be wearing red, white and blue out there when we play that game? The Buffalo Bills! You're America's team.' "
Hmmm. Maybe so.
My first reaction is that the outpouring of letters Marv got from all over the country after the Houston game probably came mostly from Houston. My second reaction is that, being a Harvard man, I think the only blue collar Marv ever wore had one of those Ralph Lauren polo players underneath it.
But my third reaction is that the Buffalo Bills have as much right to call themselves America's team as the Dallas Cowboys do. Matter of fact, until the Cowboys start putting a little red into those white and blue uniforms of theirs, the whole danged team is just plain un-American, if you ask me. Why, I'll bet the Bills come out Sunday with 50 stars on their helmets.
Down in Big D, however, you will find very few people who believe that Buffalo is truly America's team. You won't even find many who believe Buffalo should have the right to call itself Big B.
The Dallas Morning News, a distinguished newspaper that practices objective journalism only depending on the objective, is running large advertisements that are headlined: "Help Cheer the Cowboys On to Victory on Super Bowl Sunday!"
The ad reads: "Show your support for America's team by placing a good-luck message on a special 'How 'Bout Them Cowboys!' page in our Super Bowl XXVII section on Sunday, Jan. 31. Your message will be delivered to the Dallas Cowboys in Pasadena!"
Among the messages you are invited to send, the newspaper suggests "Go Cowboys," "We Love You, Cowboys" and, my personal favorites, "Love Da Boys" and "Da Boys Are Back," further indication of a growing trend in America to eliminate from our vocabulary the word the.
By the way, right alongside this advertisement on the same page of Sunday's paper was a second ad:
"Hot new party item for Super Bowl fans . . . removable tattoos! Show your team spirit. Cover your body with removable tattoos. Fun for all ages. Get 30 big and exciting Cowboys logo tattoos for just $29.95."
And Marv Levy thinks that Buffalo is America's team. Would Buffalo people cover their bodies with removable tattoos? I think not. I have seen Buffalo people cover their bodies with removable thermal underwear. I have seen Buffalo people cover their bodies with removable Thurman underwear. I have even seen them cover their bodies with removable ChapStick. But never in my life have I seen a Buffalo person cover his or her body with a removable tattoo, although I double-dare Marv Levy to do so now to back up his boast.
Others are dying to become America's team. The Atlanta Braves have nominated themselves, although, like the Buffalo Bills, what they continue to be is America's runner-up. I believe that in this great country of ours, anyone should be entitled to be called America's team, with the possible exception of the Dallas Mavericks.
Most of all, I believe Marv Levy has a point.
So, if Buffalo wins Sunday, I hereby promise to refer to it in Monday's paper as America's team. This is the least I can do, short of tattoos.